Starting a Paleo/Primal Diet: What to Expect

Happy New Year! It’s January, when so many diets begin. If you’re starting a Paleo/Primal eating plan this month, there can definitely be an adjustment period for your body. Here’s what to expect:

  • Somewhere between day 3-5, it’s common to have a headache that lasts 1-2 days. While everyone responds differently in terms of timing and duration, you will probably experience this. Fortunately, it passes pretty quickly.
  • Many people experience a period of low energy-this will often pass by day 7, but it could go on for as long as 3 weeks depending how dependent you have been on sugar and wheat. Even if you feel a bit lousy, DO NOT GIVE UP!!!! I promise, this phase will pass and you will feel MUCH better after it does.
  • You may have to go to the bathroom unusually often the first 2-3 days – your body is using up the glycogen (stored glucose) in the body, and water is stored with that glycogen. The water is released, and voila! Lots of pee breaks. 🙂 Your kidneys may also release excess sodium and other minerals from the body, flushing them out with water. This stage will pass pretty quickly (no pun intended…)

The headache and low energy symptoms are often referred to as the “low carb flu”. They occur as your body gets used to not having sugar, wheat and other quickly processed carbs to tap for energy. Gradually, your body adjusts from being a “sugar burner” to using the fat in your diet and stored in your body for fuel. This allows the body to readily start losing weight. Once this happens, most people find they have plenty of energy and feel good. It’s just important to know that the adjustment phase doesn’t last, and not to give up while your body is adapting!


A few cautions: if you are on medications like insulin or blood pressure medication and start to feel light-headed or unwell please see your doctor. The same is true if you have hypoglycemia. This way of eating can reduce the need for these medications so your dosage may need to be adjusted. Professional monitoring and guidance are definitely recommended in these cases!


While these transient symptoms may be annoying, they don’t last long – and once they are done, you’ll enjoy high energy and the knowledge that you’re doing something great for your body! Losses on the scale aren’t the only (or even best) measure of success (I prefer recording body measurements to track progress). That said, one of my new clients lost 7 pounds in the first week of the eating plan – certainly a lot of this was simply water weight, but it’s still a great motivator to get through that low energy phase!


If you’ve started an eating plan this year, great! If you’re interested in coaching for ongoing motivation, accountability, or just to answer a few questions, please feel free to contact me through the website for an initial consultation at no charge!

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